The Best Hotel Chains for Families
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The needs of traveling families are a little different from the wants and wishes of those who travel without the next generation along for the ride. There are, of course, overlapping needs shared by all travelers — a desire for clean and comfortable beds, good service, etc. But, there are also many differences unique to family travelers. Generally speaking, families need (or really want) more sleeping spots in the room, more usable space to spread out, free on-site breakfast, a decent pool and would often prefer a better overall value to fancy pants decor. That said, if the “fancy pants” places truly cater to families, those spots can occasionally be worth the splurge.
With those needs in mind, plus an eye turned to the points and elite status components of travel, here are the best hotel chains for families as selected by TPG staff, with additional insight from the TPG Family Facebook Group.
Any roundup of the best hotels for families that doesn’t start with Embassy Suites is probably lacking. Embassy Suites gets many things right for families: free hot breakfast for all, free evening appetizers (and drinks) and suites as the standard room offering.
From a pricing standpoint, Embassy Suites won’t usually be the cheapest hotel around on points or cash, but they probably won’t be the most expensive, either. Using Hilton points, many Embassy Suites properties are in the middle of the (unpublished) award chart, around 40,000 to 50,000 Hilton points per night. That’s not bad factoring in that you are usually getting a true two-room suite.
To earn Hilton Honors points to use at Embassy Suites or beyond, here’s a look at the best Hilton Honors Credit cards for family travelers, such as the Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card or Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card.
No hotel chain has surprised me more in 2018 than Homewood Suites. When I think of the name “Homewood Suites,” I think of old dark green and plaid decor suited for your Great Aunt Martha’s house. But the Homewood Suites properties I have recently visited have been way cooler than Great Aunt Martha’s house.
In fact, the ones we have seen have been perfect for modern families with spacious rooms, modern decor, splash pads, basketball courts and free breakfast and evening snacks with drinks.
If you are looking for a longer stay, Homewood Suites even have kitchens and refrigerators in the room to help keep down your food costs. Homewood Suites are a part of the Hilton Honors family, and you will often find them toward the bottom of the (unpublished) award chart. This is not based on scientific data, but I often see Homewood Suites priced about 10,000 Hilton points per night less than nearby Embassy Suites.
In fact, on our five best points-friendly hotels for families in NYC roundup, you will even find a Homewood Suites on the list. Though being located in NYC pushes this one up a bit in points cost, at around 70,000 points per night, so perhaps it is a good spot to use a weekend anniversary award night available with the Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card or Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express.
Similar to some misconceptions about Homewood Suites, if your family hasn’t stayed at a SpringHill Suites in a while, you may be (pleasantly) surprised. Yes, they have free breakfast for all, but they also have cool features like a 3-in-1 sofa bed with a pull-out trundle thanks to a furniture partnership with west elm. This is a brilliant way to sleep more kiddos without expecting them to truly share a bed.
Our stay last summer at the SpringHill Suites in Jackson Hole was outstanding, and felt way more luxurious than we expected from a limited-service hotel brand. Luxury is not a necessity for every family trip, but a little bit mixed in here and there sure doesn’t hurt.
The layout of the room was very thoughtful for families, as the built-in workspace served as a natural divider between the bed and the couch area that could be converted to sleep two kiddos.
It is common to find SpringHill Suites available for 35,000 Marriott points per night or less, which makes most of these properties viable options with the annual 35k certificates awarded from these Marriott co-branded credit cards:
If you have a 25,000-point Marriott Category 1–4 award to use, there are also many SpringHill Suites properties available at that rate.
Residence Inn properties get top marks from the TPG large-family travel expert, because they are plentiful (more than 700 locations), offer free breakfast to all and provide suites that can often sleep families of five or six. While not always available for points, some Residence Inn properties even offer two-bedroom suites that could comfortably sleep a larger group.
Just like with SpringHill Suites, you will often find Residence Inn properties at the more affordable end of the Marriott award chart, so you can stretch points while saving on food costs thanks to the free breakfast and in-room kitchens.
Technically, Hyatt Place and Hyatt House are different brands, but they are similar enough to lump together since both are good at meeting the needs of families who mainly need a clean place to sleep with free breakfast (though note you have to book direct to score free breakfast at Hyatt Place). My family turns to Hyatt Place or Hyatt House properties in urban areas where we really just need a place to rest before we head out for fun the next day.
In expensive cities where space is at a premium, such as in New York City, Hyatt Place and Hyatt House properties can be your best shot at scoring a standard room that can sleep families of four or five. Specifically, the Hyatt Place Midtown and the Hyatt House Chelsea get a Mommy Points’ thumbs-up!
If you are looking for an affordable overnight on Waikiki, you can snag the Hyatt Place Waikiki for just 12,000 World of Hyatt points per night, which is a deal compared to the nearby Hyatt Regency Waikiki or Hyatt Centric Waikiki that both go for 20,000 points per night. If family skiing is the goal, you cannot beat the overall value provided by the Hyatt Place Keystone. There you can use 15,000 Hyatt points or an annual Category 1–4 award from the World of Hyatt Credit Card to stay near the slopes, enjoy free breakfast and even get passes for free night skiing!
While Hyatt Place and Hyatt House properties are great for families in that they offer more space, free breakfast and lower award rates, Hyatt Resorts are amazing because they are … amazing. Think water slides, tons of pool options, kids clubs, good food, great elite benefits with club lounges and a luxurious family vacation that can be made attainable when using points.
Some great Hyatt Resorts include: Hyatt Regency Maui (25k points), Grand Hyatt Kauai (25k points), Hyatt Regency Coconut Point (20k), Hyatt Regency Lost Pines (20k), Andaz Costa Rica (20k) and even the all-inclusive and family-friendly Hyatt Ziva brand that can be found in Mexico and the Caribbean.
Kimpton may be a surprising inclusion on this list of the most family-friendly hotel chains, but Kimpton isn’t just a winner for pets and adults who enjoy the evening hosted wine hour — they know how to keep kids smiling, too. Kimpton’s periodic “Secret Password” has scored our family free evening movie packs or bonus “Raid the Mini Bar” credits and is a really fun element for kids into “magical” things like secret passwords.
On a recent stay at the Kimpton Van Zandt in Austin, our girls were sent complimentary milk and cookies by the staff not once, but twice on our one-night stay.
Some Kimpton properties have complimentary bikes and/or scooters available, and many offer a little more space than some other chains. For example, the Kimpton Ink48 in New York City has rooms with two queen beds available in rooms with 330 square feet, which is a good size for NYC. If you have the IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card, the deals at Kimpton properties can get better as your fourth award night is free at all IHG properties, including Kimpton. Additionally, the Platinum elite status conferred by the card will allow you to “raid the mini bar” at Kimpton Hotels.
The Gaylord family of resorts were brought into Marriott a couple of years ago, and now families can enjoy their grand-scale, theming, pools and over-the-top holiday displays using points.
While there are specials, a family stay at a Gaylord Resort isn’t likely to be inexpensive or include free breakfast, but there are ample opportunities for lots of family fun under one roof. This is especially true around the holidays for their ICE activities, or during the warm weather months when the pools are in full effect. For example, the Gaylord Texan has a 10-acre pool and lazy river complex that is open Memorial Day through Labor Day, just for resort guests.
Families with a Marriott 35,000-point certificate that is awarded annually from four different Starwood and Marriott co-branded credit cards can use these to stay at the various Gaylord properties to enjoy fun without a big price tag.
We’ve clearly left the more budget-friendly portion of the list, but in case your family wants to be pampered a bit while on vacation, there are some more luxurious options that can be very family-friendly. St. Regis Resorts, in particular, cater to the whole family with their “Family Traditions” program. While each property manages this a bit differently, my kids have frequently received St. Regis goodie bags, child-sized robes, high-quality toys and more when we indulge at a St. Regis property.
Since many St. Regis rooms come with butler service, basically every need your family could think of can be easily met. This may include “emergency” nighttime milk, a Band-Aid or even borrowing a stroller. During a family vacation at the St. Regis Punta Mita in Mexico, our oldest daughter made daily visits to the complimentary kids club, not because we asked her to go, but because she had so much fun she wanted to return daily!
Similar to St. Regis (and also bookable using Marriott points), Ritz-Carlton properties are actually very family-friendly. Ritz-Carlton runs a “Ritz Kids” program with properties offering a range of kid-focused amenities and services such as — Kid’s Night Out, water slides and splash pads, welcome amenities for kids, “Dive In” movies, toys and Kid Ranger programs.
Ritz-Carlton properties are often at the higher end of the award chart, but some are bookable with the 50,000-point certificate awarded with the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card. That card also comes with other perks that can be quite valuable for families who want to enjoy a bit of luxury without the full luxury price tag.
While there isn’t a strong points and elite status element to these stays, there’s no question that Great Wolf Lodges are designed with families in mind. These resorts have “wolf den” rooms, indoor water parks, interactive games and more than enough to keep kids smiling all weekend long.
Loews Resorts, especially those at Universal Studios Orlando, are also family-favorites. Staying at the Loews Royal Pacific or Loews Portofino Bay even gets your family included Universal Orlando Express Unlimited Passes, which is a uniquely amazing hotel perk.
Your best bet for booking these family-friendly hotel chains is to go through Hotels.com and pay with your Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card to earn 10x miles by booking via Hotels.com Venture credit toward your next Hotels.com award night (ends Jan. 31, 2020).
Some hotel chains are simply better equipped to meet the wants and desires of families than others. Does your family have a favorite hotel brand, and what makes it your first-choice when booking a stay?
Featured image by Shelby Soblick for The Points Guy